Tyre Nichols Isn’t the Only Victim Entitled to the Truth

Imagine if law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C., had acted as swiftly as police in Memphis in releasing body worn camera footage related to the use of lethal force

It took Memphis authorities less than a month to compile security and body camera recordings to show the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols, who died three days after five police officers attacked him on January 7 following a traffic stop for alleged reckless driving. Under pressure from family members and civil rights groups, the city of Memphis made public nearly an hour of footage aggregated from several angles to show what happened to Nichols.

“Throughout the struggle, Mr. Nichols appears to have been kicked violently at least twice in the face, beaten three times with a baton, sprayed in the face twice with a chemical and punched in the head six times,” according to a timeline produced by the New York Times.

In the span of a few weeks, not only did authorities release all relevant videos, the five officers were arrested, investigated by a grand jury, indicted on second degree murder charges, and fired by the Memphis Police Department.

Transparency and justice, to the extent it ever will ease his family’s grief, came quickly for Tyre Nichols.

That is not the situation for four Donald Trump supporters who died on January 6, either wholly or partially due to the actions of Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan police officers on duty that day. More than two years after the fact, body worn camera footage is only slowly being released at the criminal trials of January 6 defendants. (Only D.C. Metro police are required to wear body cameras.)

And the Department of Justice, unlike the city of Memphis, is making it nearly impossible for the general public to access the very limited trove, which has been uploaded to a platform created to house all digital evidence for the department’s “Capitol Siege” investigation.

But the unedited video—the government has produced cherry-picked clips from otherwise protected recordings to bolster the regime’s “insurrection” narrative in the media and in court—so far documents what I described last week as the worst incident of police brutality since the civil rights movement. Footage from just three D.C. Metro officers revealed how police wantonly and, in some cases, viciously attacked American citizens exercising their rights to protest at a government building. Cops used an arsenal of munitions, including rubber bullets, flashbangs, stinger balls, and massive amounts of chemical gas against protesters assembled on Capitol grounds.

Recordings also capture the conduct of other officers involved in the assault; at one point, D.C. Metro police officer Daniel Thau admitted the approach is backfiring. “We can hit ’em with a lot of pain compliance, but you’re hittin’ innocent people,” one commander told Thau at 2:14 p.m. on January 6. Thau replied that “not only that, we’re taking out one, and 10 are getting angrier.”

“We’re multiplying them by hitting them,” Thau said.

By “them,” Thau meant enraged Trump supporters who, as the footage further confirmed, were respecting police lines at the time. And around the time Thau made that comment, two men, Kevin Greeson and Benjamin Phillips, were dead of cardiac arrest.

What happened to them?

The public does not know because, unlike the death of Tyre Nichols, no politician has demanded accountability. No news organization or civil rights group has demanded justice. No family member, for reasons understood in the destructive climate created for anyone associated with January 6, has asked for answers.

D.C. Metro police officers undoubtedly were in the vicinity of both men when they suffered fatal heart attacks—very likely due to law enforcement’s reckless use of flashbangs, a metal device that emits a disorienting blast of light and sound. When used improperly—as appears to be the case in most instances on January 6—flashbangs can cause serious injury or death.

Here is just one video of what happened when a flashbang was thrown into the crowd on January 6:

Interviews of first responders and witness accounts of those near the scene suggested at least one of the men suffered cardiac arrest after being hit with a munition. 

The only way to know for sure is to release video from both Capitol security cameras and footage recorded by D.C. Metro police in the same vicinity.

And what about releasing the body-worn camera footage of Lila Morris, the D.C. Metro officer who repeatedly struck Rosanne Boyland with either a baton or stick on January 6? Newly released open source footage shows a horrific scene after her beating as protesters attempted to resuscitate her as other officers looked on.

Body cam footage of Morris’ colleague, Officer Terence Craig, indicated he was in the lower west terrace tunnel when the attack on Boyland occurred. “She’s fucking dead! This is on you, motherfuckers!” one man screamed at the officers. “This is the woman you killed, you fuckers!”

But where is Morris’ body cam video or that of other officers near her on January 6? Surely Rosanne Boyland is entitled to the same level of transparency and accountability as Tyre Nichols, since she too was pepper sprayed and beaten—where is #JusticeforRosanne hashtag?

According to testimony by Robert Contee, then-acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, more than 1,000 of his officers were at the Capitol on January 6. Quick clips of a handful of officers, including Daniel Hodges, who repeatedly referred to Trump supporters as “terrorists” during his public testimony to the January 6 select committee in 2021, have been used to garner sympathy and stoke outrage.

If it’s acceptable to make public small segments of body camera footage from selected officers, then the Department of Justice and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser should order the release of all footage on an accessible platform for the American people to see for themselves.

After all, Tyre Nichols isn’t the only victim entitled to the truth.

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